Posted: November 1, 2013 at 2:12 a.m.
Pacific Rim, directed by Guillermo del Toro (PG-13, 131 minutes)
High above the smashed streets of Hong Kong, an enormous reptilian monster known as a Kaiju does vicious battle with a Jaeger, a massive robot controlled by two mind-melded human beings strapped into the head of the machine. It is this sense of scale that director Guillermo del Toro infuses in this wildly entertaining action film, a chaotic whirl of all sorts of action genres and graphic novel components.
The Kaiju arrive when a rift opens somewhere deep beneath the Pacific Ocean that allows them to emerge out of the depths and wreak havoc on coastal cities. Humanity’s response is to join together, different countries sharing technologies and materials to build the huge humanoid Jaegers. At first, the Jaegers can beat the Kaiju, but eventually the monsters start learning human strategies and adopt tricks to counter them.
One of the first casualties is Yancy Becket (Diego Klattenhoff), the brother of Raleigh (Charlie Hunnam, Sons of Anarchy), who watches as his older sibling is ripped out of the control center of their Jaeger and into the gaping maw of a Kaiju. In the following years the Jaeger program is down-graded, leaving only its leader, Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba, Luther), a former Jaeger pilot, to try and salvage the remaining units to mass for one last attack in an attempt to ram a nuclear bomb into the rift, destroying the creatures’ ability to enter into our universe.
“You wouldn’t go to be intellectually stimulated - unless you happen to be deeply moved by 100-story-tall crustaceans - any more than you would go to a French comedy in order to be terrified,” says our critic Piers Marchant. “Fortunately, it turns out the world is a big enough place to accommodate both concerns.”
Byzantium (R, 118 minutes) Directed by Neil Jordan (Interview With the Vampire), this stylish, sometimes unsettling horror thriller with haunting imagery concerns the arrival of Clara (Gemma Arterton) and her daughter Eleanor (Saoirse Ronan) in a run-down coastal resort.There they take shelter in a deserted guesthouse called Byzantium owned by lonely Noel (Daniel Mays), with whom they share the deep secret that they were born 200 years ago and survive on human blood. With Jonny Lee Miller, Sam Riley.
R.I.P.D. (PG-13, 96 minutes) A generic comedy with a great cast that can’t overcome its pedestrian script, R.I.P.D. still manages to be reliably entertaining and intermittently funny. It concerns a recently killed Boston cop (Ryan Reynolds) who joins a team of undead police officers working for the Rest in Peace Department, where he tries to find the man who murdered him with help from a former Old West lawman (Jeff Bridges). With Kevin Bacon, Mary-Louise Parker; directed by Robert Schwentke.
Standing Up (PG, 96 minutes) An unsentimental look at how kids deal with bullying, Stand Up concerns preteens Howie (Chandler Canterbury) and Grace (Annalise Basso), respectively, who are the victims of a vicious and humiliating prank at summer camp that causes them to run off together - an experience that teaches them how to take care of themselves in a hurry. Based on the book The Goats by Brock Cole, recommended for readers ages 10-14. With Val Kilmer, Radha Mitchell; directed by D.J. Caruso (Eagle Eye).
Only God Forgives (R, 90 minutes) Only the most fervent Ryan Gosling fans will have the patience to absorb this dazzling sensory puzzle that doesn’t seem to care if anyone understands why it exists. It takes a while to grasp the plot, which concerns taciturn drug smuggler Julian (Gosling) whose older brother Billy (Tom Burke) rapes and murders an underage prostitute in Thailand, setting off a hard-to-watch string of murder and mutilation. Arriving with vengeance on her mind is Julian and Billy’s mother Crystal (a vamped-up Kristin Scott Thomas). Director Nicolas Winding Refn “could tell you that his movie is about the style displayed, that it’s a deconstruction of cinema, that he’s not really very interested in whatever human emotions his noncharacters are not displaying,” says our critic Philip Martin. “And that is all right, I guess; people are free to make whatever sort of movies they want to make and to explore whatever ideas they want to explore. And I know there will be hundreds and maybe thousands of people who will embrace Only God Forgives if for no other reason than it refuses to show them the usual thing.”
MovieStyle, Pages 33 on 11/01/2013